Monday, June 3, 2013

Lead and Lag Goals in Business

As a one person business I have to think very carefully about how I spend the many hours I work everyday. Early on I listed my patterns for sale on Patternfish only and more recently I've added the ability to purchase my patterns on Ravelry. The reason I delayed was administrative, to list on both sites doubles the time of pattern input for me. So the question with every choice I make is always, is it an efficient use of my time?

I get questions from many people outside the industry regarding my monthly revenue. The answer is I have no idea! I could take the time to calculate the numbers. I have all of the raw data. 

I do keep a very simple spreadsheet of expenses and earnings. My assistant inputs the information for me and I do have a bottom line total that tells me what's happening in a more global sense. 

I've realized that the monthly revenue question may be interesting to others but it would bring no value to me. I already know as I grow my pattern portfolio, my sales increase. Each new pattern added brings attention to the previously published patterns and they often sell additional copies.  

Sometimes focusing on a specific end goal can be highly counter-productive. A story from a business seminar I took explained the limits of this. Briefly the narrative ran, that a company which made screws, shifted the focus to quantity. The result was, hundreds of thousands poorly made screws were manufactured, which could not be sold. The company quickly shifted focus back to quality, and then the workers produced one perfect unsellable giant screw. Coming from a corporate background I love the way the phrase "giant screw'" works on more than one level here.

It's hard to figure out what's most important, if your focus is on a narrow end target. The end number is referred to as the lag measurement in this cool video. The lead metric is what actually creates results. The video is targeting business applications however it applies to goal accomplishment in a much more global way and uses a weight loss example to demonstrate.

In my case, taking the time to calculate specific sales results would be a huge time suck and would be unlikely to change what I do daily. My measurements should be based on my objective, patterns published, because I can't get revenue if I don't publish!

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